Keeping the Bonds of the Baylor Family Strong
By Todd Copeland
’76 and Stacy Mays Sharp ’76 (pictured at right) have had a number of
connections with Baylor University over the years. The residents of
Amarillo are past presidents of the Baylor Parents League and were
named Baylor Parents of the Year in 2004. All four of their children
have graduated from Baylor, the last in 2008. And Stacy is a current
member of the Baylor Alumni Association’s Board of Directors.
Now they can add one more activity to that list—donors to the BAA’s Sesquicentennial Campaign.
The alumni association believes that every great university needs the
support of an equally great alumni association. As part of the BAA
Sesquicentennial celebration in 2009, the organization is pursuing an
endowment campaign that will provide a critical base of support for the
BAA’s core services and programs—all of which directly benefit Baylor
University and its students.
The Sharps have singled out a program that is near to their hearts—Alumni by Choice.
“It’s my understanding that these key programs of the BAA—these
longstanding programs—need to be underwritten so they can continue. It
would be very sad to see such programs go away,” Stacy said.
“We’re down at Baylor a lot, but for people who don’t get back to
campus, the alumni association is their connection to Baylor,” she
added. “The BAA keeps alumni connected to the university and their
friends, and we want to help make sure the alumni association can be as
strong and financially secure as possible.”
The Alumni by Choice program has been one of the BAA’s most successful
initiatives to widen the circle of the Baylor family. It provides a
unique opportunity for alumni to honor their friends and family members
who love and support Baylor even though they didn’t attend the
university—designating them as an alumnus or alumna “by choice.”
Nominees are honored at a fall event, where the BAA and Baylor’s
president present them with official “Alumni by Choice” diplomas as
family members and friends look on.
Begun by the alumni association in 1986, the Alumni by Choice program
has now welcomed thousands of longtime, green-and-gold-wearing Bears
fans into the Baylor family. The first ABC recipient was Merrie
Beckham, and she continues to be the ceremony’s featured speaker more
than twenty years after her first performance.
Stacy Sharp has experienced the success of the Alumni by Choice program
firsthand. Her mother, Betty Lou Mays, was one of the program’s early
“My mother just loved becoming an alumna by choice,” she said. Sharp’s
father, Troy Mays, was a Baylor student when the attack on Pearl Harbor
occurred. Like many of his peers, he left school to join the war
effort. He joined the Navy in 1942 and spent three years as a
quartermaster on a landing ship. Betty Lou did not attend Baylor, but
Stacy said she came to feel like a Baylor Bear.
“My mother fell in love with Baylor when my dad took her to football
games,” she said. “She loved all the people she met and loved Baylor.
Our gift is to honor her and the connection to Baylor that the Alumni
by Choice program gave her.”
The Sharps’ gift of $90,000 to complete the full endowment of the
Alumni by Choice program is being given through the Mays Foundation, a
private organization founded in 1965. “My grandfather started the Mays
Foundation, and it has traditionally supported Baptist-related entities
and local Amarillo entities,” Stacy said.
The Sharps’ gift to the BAA is only the most recent in the Mays
family’s history of philanthropy. The family funded the Betty Lou Mays
Memorial Soccer Field for Baylor athletics, and Troy Mays provided
funds for the establishment of a professorship of entrepreneurship and
a student scholarship and support for the Winfred and Elizabeth Moore
Center for Ministry Effectiveness. In 2006, a few months before his
death, Troy Mays was awarded the Founders Medal, one of Baylor’s most
distinguished honors reserved for men and women whose service and
contributions have been unusually significant to the life and future of
Randy and Stacy Mays Sharp met in second grade and dated during their
days at Baylor. They joined in the Mays family’s business upon settling
back in Amarillo, and today they guide the Mays Group. And though their
children have all passed through Baylor and moved on in their lives and
careers, the Sharps continue to be vitally interested in the well-being
of Baylor and the Baylor Alumni Association. It’s a connection that
Stacy said will never be broken.
“Our children are spread out now across four time zones, but I know
they’ve been able to connect with people where they live through the
Baylor Alumni Association,” she said. “And even though two of our
children have married Baylor spouses, we wanted to make sure that the
Alumni by Choice program will be there if the other two marry people
who aren’t Baylor grads.”